Peter, James, and John were with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration when Elijah and Moses appeared and Jesus was for a time transfigured from an earthly form into a supernatural one. True to form though, Peter started to babble, putting a foot into his mouth…when God interrupted him saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5) However, this mountain top experience changed Peter, James, and John forever. They were witnesses to the power and majesty, glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ…and this personal knowledge and experience changed who they were and how they shared the Gospel Message from that time on.
Solomon asked God for a discerning heart and the wisdom to distinguish between right and wrong and God was pleased. (I Kings 3:9-10) For Solomon wasn’t asking for the superficial or trivial, or things that had no eternal significance…he was asking for wisdom. I once worked with a Doctor who started calling me Prudence. When I asked why, he stated it was how I conducted myself dealing with patients and that he appreciated my common sense and prudent approach. When you ask God for wisdom, understanding, discretion, and His Will in your life… He happily will oblige. (James 1:5)
Say someone you’re close to is going through a major health crisis…so as a good person off you go to their house. But soon this visit becomes very awkward, for the more you talk and ask questions, the more frustrated and angry the person becomes. Abruptly the visit ends with you walking out wondering why you feel discouraged and angry when all you wanted to do was to encourage and comfort that person. Aristotle referred to anger as desire with grief. And this verse in James should be a guide as we deal with those going through critical times. Listening should be the only goal we have…not preaching…not pumping the person for details…nor personalizing the visit with every awful thing we’ve gone through. Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, sin is not absent.” I remember hearing a story about Mother Teresa, that when she visited the dying she rarely spoke…instead she just held them, stroking their face, and listening. When your only agenda is to listen…you are validating that person and giving consideration to what they’re going through without bias or opinion. They are then free to explore and verbalize their internal dialogue as they work through their emotions. Just listening can then become the greatest gift you can give that person.
God is a generous giver and His desire is to bless us. It says in James 1:17 that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” So as big-hearted as God is towards us, we need to reflect that generosity in our giving to others. But He’s not just talking about money here…for it’s easy to give money. No, He’s talking about our time…and we’re probably more tight-fisted about that than any amount of money we’d give. Proverbs 21:26 tells us, “The righteous give without sparing.” So if you’ve been stingy with your time for the Lord…think of this…you will never be able to out give God.
As Christians, we are to be imitators of Christ. We are to follow His lead in how to deal with people we come in contact with daily. This requirement of impartiality towards others is displayed throughout the Bible…making it very clear, “God does not show favoritism.” Partiality and bias are easy traps to fall into, unless we make a conscious decision to follow the pattern of Jesus instead. For if you boil favoritism down…all you get is the ugliness of bigotry and prejudice.
The next time you’re in a heated debate, take notice of your body language. Are your arms tightly crossed over your chest? You’re being defensive and resistive to the person and words that are being spoken to you. Are you shaking your head ” No “as someone is speaking to you? You’re not listening, but rather formulating what you want to say in response as soon as that person takes their next breath. This scripture shows that the art of communication is listening deliberately, speaking carefully, and not allowing knee-jerk reactionary anger to prevail.
Deuteronomy 10:17 states, “God doesn’t show partiality and He accepts no bribes.” So as a Follower of Jesus, we should not either. When we allow bias to color our judgment…we are opening ourselves up to bigotry… prejudging entire groups of people based on one incident…or one person. God never favors one person over another…for He is always impartial and fair…and we should be also.